Religious issues in psychotherapy: A qualitative analysis

Maria Reilly Goldstein (1993)

A study was conducted which used constructionist ideology and qualitative methodology to ascertain how 10 psychologists responded to clients' religious material in psychotherapy and to understand the reasons these psychologists gave for their reactions. The study was placed within the context of the importance of religion, the impact of modernist and postmodern epistemologies on psychology's view of religion, and the effects of religious beliefs on the psychotherapy process. The factors of graduate training, personal religious issues, and theoretical orientation were explored as rationales for psychologists' responses to clients who present religious material. All were found to have little impact on their interventions. The results indicated that: (a) most of the participants had no specific training regarding religious material, (b) all of the members addressed clients' religious material with non-religious interventions and reacted as they did in the service of the client, (c) more than half of the participants noted that they had changed their views about religious material in treatment in the course of their clinical experience as a result of exposure to their clients. The concept of client influence was explained in terms of the notion of local knowledge and the psychologists role as local clinical scientist.